“Circle of Influence” and "No Way Home" by Annette Dashofy, star Zoe Chambers as an EMT, who occasionally doubles as a coroner's assistant when she can stand the smells in the autopsy room.
In "Circle of Influence," a routine call to check on a car on the side of the road turns into a murder investigation. The only trouble is the dead guy is her best friend's husband, well-liked and respected in town, and he is sitting in the front seat of a city council guy’s car – a guy hated by almost everyone. Why is her friend dead and why is he sitting in that particular car?
The dead guy's mother works for the police department and is arrested for borrowing a computer from the storeroom. Arrested? Why would the city council bully would do such a thing? What is on that computer? Life gets dangerous, the body count rises, and so does the list of suspects. In the “Circle of Influence” effectively layered storyline, there are secrets galore and we don't know whom to believe. Trust is tough to come by.
Dashofy gives us a picture of small-town country living in Pennsylvania. Vance Township is so small that everyone knows where you were and the neighbors ask you about it before you unlock your front door. Vance doesn't even have a coffee shop. The philosophy is that coffee can be brewed at home or at the office- no need to waste money when cash is tight.
The core characters in “Circle of Influence” are nicely developed and we really care about what happens to each. Any one of them could be your next-door neighbor, the guy at the grocery store, the cop you see on the street, the maybe boyfriend that gives you pause – in a good way. Zoe Chambers herself, is a flesh and blood gal with a love of country life and horses. Even though not making a big salary as an EMT, Zoe is able to keep a horse of her own by boarding horses for other people. She has a support system, steps on a few toes while investigating, has an eye for detail, aims to improve at her job, and is loyal to her friends.
Dashofy’s Zoe Chambers is a great character for a series, so I picked up Agatha nominated “No Way Home,” book #5.
Zoe Chambers is out for a ride on her own horse, when a horse from her boarding stable gallops toward her without its owner. You guessed it – the owner is dead. Was it an accident or something else, because the crime scene details don’t add up and the autopsy reveals an unexpected twist.
A tricky plot takes Zoe and her sometime best friend to New Mexico in search of more than one truth. Tensions are high as we discover that drug use is on the rise in this southwestern fictional Pennsylvania community set 30 miles from Pittsburgh. Drug paraphernalia at the crime scenes gives the story a grim authenticity.
Zoe’s love interest in the series returns, but love is not the central focus of “No Way Home.” Murder, drugs, and mayhem definitely are.
Dashofy’s central characters are engaging in "Circle of Influence" and "No Way Home," the plot lines topical, and happily, more books are in the works. “Uneasy Prey,” book #6, is out now.
Please visit www.annettedashofy.com to find out more about this award winning and Agatha nominated author.